In Extension, needs assessment should be a part of program planning and evaluation. You probably already recognize the importance of assessing need when developing or tweaking programs. You may already use bits and pieces of information to help guide your program decision making. This is a good start, but there are some structured ways to be thinking about needs assessment. Recognizing and even following the steps of more structured needs assessment can help us all craft more meaningful programs that serve our desired audiences and can easily be evaluated on their ability to meet the needs of constituents. In many cases, needs assessment can foster positive and meaningful changes to the way we think about and develop programs. Use the resources below to do and learn about the steps of a high-quality, structured needs assessment.
Use these regional profiles to:
- Determine if there is a need in the region that Extension is not yet addressing.
- Determine if Extension programming across the region is responsive to the social, economic, and demographic issues outlined in the profile. (How are the needs of an aging population being reflected in programming? If there’s high employment and attachment to the labor force in the region, how are Extension programs in the region flexible to the needs of workers?)
- Help you justify and continue getting support for current Extension programming, because the programming addresses or is responsive to the social, economic, and demographic issues in the region.
Needs Assessment Resources
Needs Assessment Primerby Sam Angima & Lena Etuk, Oregon State University Extension Service
Needs Assessment Exampleby Lena Etuk & Sam Angima, Oregon State University Extension Service
- Needs Assessment Webinar (scroll down to 2012, November 9) by Lena Etuk & Sam Angima, Oregon State University Extension Service
- Needs Assessment Presentation (1 hour 30 minutes) by Lena Etuk & Sam Angima, Oregon State University Extension Service
Program Planning for Maximum Impactby Lena Etuk, Oregon State University Extension Service
- Program Planning for Maximum Impact presentation (1 hour, 20 minutes) by Lena Etuk, Oregon State University Extension Service
Program & Proposal Enhancement ToolsWorksheets to help you craft a solid proposal for programs - by Dave King, Lena Etuk, & Sam Angima
Have you conducted a needs assessment that followed the principle of measuring the difference between “what is” and “what should be?” Would you be interested in sharing it with others as an example? If so, please send Sam Angima or Lena Etuk a summary of that needs assessment (2-6 pages). They'll review it, maybe make some comments on it, and then share it with others as an example on this webpage or in trainings.
Here is a template you can use to guide your development of a Needs Assessment Summary: